US commits $45 million to West African coastal security

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has, during a visit to Cote d’Ivoire, committed $45 million in new funding to help the country and its neighbours prevent conflict and promote stability in the face of regional threats.

Blinken visited Abidjan on 22 and 23 January, meeting with President Alassane Ouattara, and advanced commitments made during the US-Africa Leaders Summit.

He explained the $45 million in new funding will bring to nearly $300 million the amount dedicated by the US in stability-focused assistance to Coastal West Africa since 2022, “which underscores our commitment to partner with this region for the Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability.”

During his visit, Blinken said, “we spent a good deal of time talking about regional security challenges, and here Côte d’Ivoire is an essential partner – a partner for us, a partner for other countries in the region that are trying to move forward. We appreciate particularly the leadership shown by Côte d’Ivoire in countering extremism and violence.”

He added that, “we’re also working to bolster Côte d’Ivoire’s security capacity. There’s been an increase in training – multiplied 15 times – training equipment for the military, just over the last year. We’re expanding civilian forces investment as well. And I have to applaud the approach that’s been taken by Côte d’Ivoire – working with communities, listening to communities, making sure that their security forces understand the needs, the concerns of local communities, and building security together. Côte d’Ivoire is showing the way to do that, and I think that can serve as a very powerful model for other countries.

“Finally, we noted and applauded the very important leadership of the president in other regional issues, particularly the very hard but important work of trying to return Niger to constitutional order. We had a long discussion about that. The bottom line is this: Côte d’Ivoire is a leader in West Africa and on the continent in so many ways, and we feel that in our own partnership. We look to Côte d’Ivoire for advice, for council, for collaboration. I hope – I believe, in any event, that we learn a lot from each other,” Blinken said.

With regard to building defence and security partnerships, the US Department of State explained that the Department of Defence (DoD) supports a border security initiative ($6.5 million) to reduce terrorist transit across Côte d’Ivoire’s borders and a port security programme ($4.9 million) to counter piracy, illicit trafficking, and illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

“The US military works closely with Ivoirian counterparts to professionalize their security forces by promoting regional cohesion through information sharing and participation in military exercises. The US Government selected Côte d’Ivoire to host Special Operations Forces largest multinational exercise Flintlock in 2025 and 2026.

“Through the Resilience for Peace programme, the United States is dedicating more than $20 million (via USAID) over five years to strengthen community resilience, learning, and civic and economic empowerment opportunities to prevent violent extremism in Côte d’Ivoire’s northern border areas.

“The State Department Bureau of Counterterrorism is providing civilian security assistance ($6.5 million) to support training and equipping National Police and National Gendarmerie intervention units in crisis response and rural border patrol capabilities.

“We commend Côte d’Ivoire’s leadership and generosity in welcoming thousands of vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers as violence in the Sahel continues to force displacement across West Africa. The United States remains the single largest contributor to address the needs of displaced persons throughout West Africa. In 2023, we provided nearly $12 million in humanitarian assistance to partners serving the needs of refugees in coastal West Africa.

“The United States’ commitment to regional stability and combatting violent extremism includes support for the International Counterterrorism Academy (AILCT). As a member of the AILCT governing board we are investing over $8.2 million to build this multilateral institution and train forces to build a common approach to counter terrorism,” the Department of State explained.

Blinken is currently visiting Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Angola, with the trip lasting from 21 to 26 January. The purpose of the trip is to discuss US-African partnerships over trade, climate, infrastructure, health, security and other issues.